Listening to Radio Kerry on Monday whilst driving back to Cork I heard that a planning application is about to go in to Kerry County Council to knock the existing Waterville Lake Hotel and build a much smaller 32 bedroomed hotel in its place. The Skellig Bay Golf course across the road from the hotel was also purchased by the new owners and will open again after some improvements have been made. It will be known as Hogs Head Golf Club after the area where it is located, when it reopens in 2017. The golf course has super views of the ocean and Waterville Lake.
It was in the early 1970’s that John A Mulcahy bought the old but beautiful Southern Lake Hotel (see above photo) on the shores of the famous Waterville Lake. He knocked that lovely old hotel which was probably a bit traumatic for the Waterville people and built the much bigger and probably more luxurious Waterville Lake Hotel on the site. Let’s hope the new hotel will look as good as the one that was originally on that wonderful lakeside site.
He also bought the old nine hole Waterville Golf Club and built the world renowned Waterville Golf Links. The course which was designed by Eddie Hackett, is in a wonderful location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Ballinskelligs Bay.
When John A Mulcahy was in residence at Waterville House which is the house situated on the bank of the river where Waterville’s famous system of fishing lakes overflow to the sea, there were always famous golfers visiting and staying with him. Sam Snead was probably the first famous golfer to visit and then followed Tiger Woods, Mark O Meara and the late Payne Stewart who were all regular visitors who used to get some links practice at Waterville and Ballybunion in on their way to The British Open.
John A as he was affectionately known, normally dined in the Hotel in the evening at his own special table and always wore a splendid green jacket. At that time for men, jackets were obligatory when dining at the hotel in the evening. On one occasion Tony Jacklin the winner of the British and American Open Championships, during one of the Pro-Ams, arrived for dinner casually dressed in a pullover and was gently turned away. He came back a few minutes later in an ill-fitting jacket he had borrowed in haste from someone!
We had an unusual experience while playing in that Pro-Am of 1985. The City Life team was Dermot O Mahoney, Donal Higgins and myself. Ted Higgins, Donal’s brother, the pro at Ballybunion at that time was our Professional.
We actually won the Pro-Am that year beating a team that included the actor Telly Savalas better known as Kojac, film star Hal Linden and also on the team was Sydney Chaplain a nephew of the famous Charley Chaplain into second place. As our prize of a set of irons was deemed to exceed the value of the amateur limit we were threatened with the loss of our amateur status and being reported to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews. This of course made the sports headlines in our local paper.
Eventually to resolve the issue we gave the prizes back to the tournament organiser to satisfy Dick Barry the pompous Honorary Secretary of the Munster Branch. Frankly we didn’t care about the prizes as we were just happy to win a wonderful tournament on a magnificent golf course. Happy to have beaten Kojac and his film star buddies!
My relationship with the Hon Sec Mr Barry was however slightly strained thereafter!
Another landmark hotel on The Ring of Kerry that has also recently changed hands is The Derrynane Hotel and it will be interesting to see whether it too will be knocked or refurbished. (Picture below taken during the severe storm of January 2014).
The Derrynane Hotel was built in 1982, on a wonderful site overlooking the Kenmare River with breath-taking views in the background of the Beara Peninsula in beautiful West Cork.
The hotel and eight holiday cottages on site were recently sold by the receiver for The Bank of Ireland. The hotel is on a magnificent site perched on rocks by the sea and just a few miles from the village of Caherdaniel and Derrynane’s famous beaches.
These two hotels of Waterville and Derrynane and indeed many other hotels in Ireland have been sold in recent times as a result of borrowings that were too high and the challenging economic times we have just gone through.
I would like to think that these sales and the influx of new monies into the hotel sector must auger well for the very important Irish Tourism Industry. Certainly the promotion of the concept of The Wild Atlantic Way has seen an incredible increase in the number of tourists driving, walking or cycling around the West Coast of Ireland.
Talk to Kerry people right now though, and their total focus is not on the tourist season, no, it has turned sharply towards the upcoming all Ireland final especially since their arch rivals Dublin beat Mayo to become their opponents.
They still remember in Kerry and haven’t really forgiven the slogan that some nasty Dublin people coined in the build up to previous all Ireland finals between the two counties “Kerry for the holidays but Dublin for The Sam Maguire”!
Ted Dwyer Family Business
PS. For any financial advisors in Ireland who might be reading this blog, I intend to run two financial coaching courses in Cork on October 8th and November 5th. If you would like to attend either session or would like further information please email Michelle on firstname.lastname@example.org